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Clintonville Army veteran to give Memorial Day keynote address

By: 

Grace Kirchner Leader Correspondent

A longtime Clintonville teacher who served the United States in Vietnam will be the honored guest speaker at this year’s Memorial Day observance in Clintonville.

First Lt. Ralph Williams of the U.S. Army will be part of the May 27 ceremony, Clintonville Mayor Richard Beggs has announced.

Williams grew up in Laona and attended the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where he earned degrees in both history and English. When he decided to join the Army, he was selected for officer candidate school, and later he served as an artillery instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. During the Vietnam War, Williams served with the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment.

Upon completion of his military service, Williams accepted a teaching position in Clintonville, which he held for 34 years. In 1993, the Wisconsin State Council of Vietnam Veterans of America awarded Williams with the Vietnam Veteran Outstanding Achievement Award for his work with youth in the community. In 1995, he received the Hillshire Recognition of Excellence Award for outstanding contributions in teaching.

While Williams enjoys many hobbies, his favorites are gardening and fishing. He resides in Clintonville and is very active with the Clintonville Lions Club, leading their wheelchair access ramp program.

Clintonville’s Memorial Day observance will begin with a wreath-laying ceremony at 9:10 a.m. at the Memorial Street Bridge. A parade beginning at 9:15 a.m. will follow and proceed south on Main Street to the Graceland Cemetery, where the memorial ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. The ceremony will be repeated in the Riverside Cemetery in Embarrass at 11 a.m.

“Memorial Day is an important day,” Beggs said. He encouraged members of the community to come out to the ceremonies, listen to Williams’ remarks and honor deceased veterans.